Following an introduction explaining the genesis of the paper, section 2 briefly reviews some relevant literature and concepts. On the basis of this review, section 3 develops an outline evolutionary model of policy development. Section 4 interprets the history and present status of the EU policy within this framework (here illustrated by the cereals policy which is taken as archetypal for the CAP as a whole). It characterises the policy history In broad evolutionary terms, emphasising the 'fitness for purpose' of various manifestations of the policy organism. The key conclusion from this section is that the present policy situation cannot be described as 'fit' - there is too much conflict between the present (rather new) policy environment and the character of the existing policy. This conclusion is in distinct contrast to more conventional views about the status of the present policy and to the current view from within the policy-making bureaucracy. Section 5 develops some major implications of this analysis for future development of the CAP. Section 6 offers some broad conclusions.